Thursday, January 17, 2013

Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Demographics of Employee Tenure

Job tenure measures how long a given employee has worked for the same employer. Job tenure data are sometimes used as a measure of job security, as increasing tenure could be interpreted as a sign of greater stability. While this might be true during periods of economic growth, economic downturns cause people to hold on to jobs for a longer period of time.

In general, workers keep jobs for longer periods of time as they get older, and then tenure starts dropping around retirement age.  While this pattern held true in the 1990s and early 2000s, data from 2006 to 2012 reveal that instead of falling, median tenure has actually risen for the 55 and over age groups. The graph below shows that after the recession, these workers held jobs more than one year longer than similar workers prior to the recession.

Although Oregon data are unavailable, it's very likely that Oregon follows national tenure trends. U.S. median tenure for younger age groups has remained fairly stable over time, though there has been a slight increase of six months or less for workers age 25 to 54.

Overall, public sector tenure is nearly twice as long as that of the private sector. The government workforce is older, on average, than other industries, which places upward pressure on median job duration. Government workers also have a higher rate of unionization, which can lead to higher tenure. Manufacturing and transportation and utilities also employ a high concentration of unionized workers, which may be one reason why these industries have the first and second-longest tenure, respectively, in the private sector.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, industries that tend to employ temporary and seasonal workers have lower tenure. Leisure and hospitality, which often hires younger workers, has the shortest median tenure at 2.4 years. The wholesale and retail trade workforce, which also tends to be younger, has the next shortest job duration at 3.7 years.

You'll find plenty of additional information in the full article, written by me. 

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